I immediately replied saying YES YES YES I will gladly take on the rush job (one of the best assignments I've gotten to date, even if I wasn't the original choice illustrator). And I quickly got to work sketching out the image to the specs they requested. They were pretty concrete on what they wanted (falling elephant, red tent, fortune teller combined whimsically) so I gave it my best shot while adhering to their vision. It may not be how I would have approached it given free reign but I made do.
Personally I feel both honored and completely nervous to have the opportunity to make an image that will accompany this story, even if it is just in an educational textbook or wherever it's going to end up. The published book is perfect in every way, including the beautiful emotive and atmospheric illustrations by Yoko Tanaka. But I'll gladly take the chance anyway. :D